Gateway project, with new toll roads and I-275 express lanes, will open Friday

ST. PETERSBURG — The Gateway Expressway project — the yearslong, oft-delayed effort to reshape a critical part of Tampa Bay’s traffic flow with toll roads and express lanes — will finally open to the public Friday, more than six years after construction began, the Florida Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

The $600 million project’s key feature is a pair of elevated, four-lane toll roads connecting Interstate 275 to major roadways: one to the Bayside Bridge, the other to U.S. 19. It also includes new express lanes along part of I-275 in Pinellas County’s Gateway area, from just south of Gandy Boulevard to Fourth Street North, where the Howard Frankland Bridge begins.

Construction on the Gateway project, part of a state plan to add highway capacity as Tampa Bay’s population grows, was underway by early 2018 but has been beset by delays, with planned openings pushed from early 2021 to 2023, then to early 2024, and finally to this spring.

According to the Department of Transportation’s website, the toll roads and express lanes are set to open to traffic Friday afternoon, though the agency did not give an exact time.